The Big Smoke Hits Miami Beach

Big Smoke Miami attendees were able to smoke cigars and drink premium libations into the night on the Fontainebleau Hotel's patio.
Photos/Benjamin Rusnak
Big Smoke Miami attendees were able to smoke cigars and drink premium libations into the night on the Fontainebleau Hotel's patio.

The crowd came early and stayed late, eager to be part of the first Big Smoke in Miami in nearly 20 years. It was a night of cigars, great cocktails, a festive atmosphere and some of the biggest names in the premium cigar business.

Held at the luxe Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach on Friday, April 7, the event drew hundreds of eager cigar lovers not only from around Miami, but from the New York area, other parts of Florida and the United States, and even from Toronto, Canada.

"The Miami Big Smoke was a smashing success, and I'm 100 percent in for next year," wrote cigar star Jonathan Drew on Twitter. "The biggest cigar event in Miami," said Rafael Nodal of Aging Room cigars.

The bartenders were kept busy by the thirsty crowd, mixing drinks from the Bacardi library of brands. There was a D'Ussé Cognac Lounge, the John Dewar & Son's Fine Scotch Emporiums, Hatuey Beer and Bacardi 8 aged rum. Specialty cocktails included Bacardi 8 Old Fashioneds, D'Ussé Sidecars and The Penicillin made with Dewar's.

The format was different from other Big Smokes. The audience walked into the main ballroom, which was filled with cigarmaker's booths, two full-sized bars, a spread of fine food, a stage with a live band, and seating areas. After getting cigars from each station—a ticket entitled you to 36 smokes—you could walk outside to the vast patio overlooking Miami Beach and palm trees for a cigar.


Jorge Padrón of Padrón Cigars and Marvin Shanken, editor and publisher of Cigar Aficionado, share a laugh and a cigar at the Big Smoke Miami.
Ernesto Cayro, Rafael Diaz, Tom Brooks and Julio Cayro show what the Big Smoke is all about: coming together to enjoy premium cigar and libations with friends.
People came from all over the United States to attend the event, with some even coming from as far as Toronto, Canada.
Shay Medal, John Cicero, Adrian Biggs, Sean O'Toole, Christelle Blanche and Natalie Mazzotta capture a Big Smoke moment at the D'Ussé Cognac photo area.
Bo Brandt, left, enjoying great cigars and cocktails with Luke and Rachel Branyan.
Enjoying a smoke on the patio, from left, Rocky Patel, Janine Leishear, Nestor Andrés Plasencia, David Savona of Cigar Aficionado, Rob Logan and Rafael Nodal.
Showing their support for University of Miami football team, from left: cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph; Gregory Shepherd, dean, school of communication; defensive coordinator Manny Diaz; Marvin R. Shanken; assistant head coach Craig Kuligowski and Ephraim Banda, safeties coach.
Bacardi supplied a library of premium spirits, including delicious cocktails.
John Fought, Michael Masters and Ray Lefto, dressed for the perfect Miami weather, revel with a cigar in hand.
Jeff Lee and Clarence Watkins are all smiles as they share cigars with one another.
Jonathan Drew of Drew Estate was one of the cigarmakers on hand to speak personally with cigar lovers about his products.

“I just finished a great weekend in Miami, and it all started at Cigar Aficionado’s Big Smoke,” said Jerry Hartman of Cigar Studio in Toronto, who came with 10 other people from Canada. “Could not beat the location as the Fontainebleau Hotel is as central as you can get—and did I mention that Miami weather is a lot better than Toronto’s at this time of year?”

The patio also had several bar stations, and the drinks flowed all night. Those who wished to break up the evening could move back and forth between the patio and the inside room (so long as they didn't bring a cigar inside, where smoking was not allowed). The event went long into the night.

Cigar stars on hand at the Big Smoke included: Carlos Fuente Jr. of Arturo Fuente Cigars; Jorge Padrón of Padrón Cigars; Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana; Rocky Patel, Nish Patel, Nimish Desai of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars; Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, Lissette Perez-Carrillo and José Blanco of EPC Cigar Co.; Manuel Quesada of Quesada Cigars; Pete Johnson of Tatuaje; Janny, Jaime and other members of the Garcia Family from My Father Cigars; Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley Cigar Co.; Nestor Andres Plasencia of Plasencia Cigars; A.J. Fernandez of AJ Fernandez Cigars; Jonathan Drew and Willy Herrera of Drew Estate; Javier Estades of Altadis; Rafael Nodal of Aging Room; Christian Eiroa of CLE Cigars; Michael Herklots of Nat Sherman; Bill Paley, Clay Roberts and Sam Phillips of La Palina; Chip Goldeen of Ashton Distributors; Régis Broersma of General Cigar Co.; Steven Bailey of Cornelius & Anthony Cigars; Erik Espinosa of Espinosa Cigars; Jochy Blanco of Tabacalera Palma; Paul Palmer-Fernandez of Casa Fernandez; David Wagner of Oliva Cigars; Jason Carignan of Ventura Cigars; Jason Wood of La Aurora Cigars; Kevin Newman of El Artista Cigars; Mehul Shah of MBombay Cigars; and Edel Gomez representing Micallef Cigars.

The next Big Smoke takes place in Las Vegas on November 17-19. To order tickets, click here.

The Big Smoke will return to Miami next year. Look for updates at

Jaime Fuertes April 10, 2017 8:11pm ET
A night to remember indeed! Can't wait for next year!!!
raymond klouda lake worth fl., fl., usa, April 11, 2017 7:01am ET
If staying late you mean everyone was escorted off the patio.
Oliver Hunter CLINTON, MD, United States, April 11, 2017 7:48am ET
Big Smoke Miami was a first class event! Looking forward to attending next year!
David Savona April 11, 2017 9:10am ET
Raymond, the event was scheduled to end at 9:30, so when people were asked to leave the patio after 10 pm it was already a half hour later than go time. Hope you enjoyed the event.
David Savona April 11, 2017 9:10am ET
Jaime, glad you enjoyed the Miami Big Smoke.
David Savona April 11, 2017 9:11am ET
Oliver, I'm glad to hear you had such a great time. The feedback we had was overwhelmingly positive.
K David Meit April 11, 2017 6:17pm ET
Great evening with nice selection of sticks and open bars. We may have arrived early but didn't stay late since they kicked us out at 9:30!
N K USA, April 11, 2017 9:01pm ET
I understand there were a lot of elderly people who need to go to bed early, but most of us wished to stay longer, maybe past midnight... I mean c'mon, this is Miami Beach after all. What the heck!
Jaime Fuertes April 12, 2017 12:28am ET
David, enjoyed it a lot and then some! Went with a group from Cigar House Puerto Rico in Old San Juan and all of us had a great time.
I'm disappointed that some ppl here are trying to create negative feedback with the closing time. When tickets were sold and the details were announced it clearly stated that the event ended @ 9:30pm so I don't understand why ppl were surprised to have been asked to leave the premises half hour past such finishing time.
raymond klouda lake worth fl., fl., usa, April 12, 2017 8:10am ET
Actually David Meit is was closer to 930pm.than 10pm.when we were forced to leave, not asked, but told.i was being generous with the time.I had just received a beer, and had half of a rocky Patel left to smoke.I guess staying late is a relative the time I had visited the booths, gotten a drink, grabbed something to eat, enjoyed some conversation,i didn't light up to close to 9pm.the price of the ticket was $325,for some $375.we are on an outside patio, at a cigar event.if they want to close the bars, fine, or leave them open and turn them to cash bars, even better, but not to be able to enjoy a cigar late into the night with your fellow cigar brothers, on the outdoor patio is Jamie I'm sorry about the negative feedback, it was a good event, but I'm disappointed as im sure a few others are as well, that for $325, we couldn't finish our cigars on the patio.
Entering into the cigar business over 20 years ago, the CA Big Smoke has a very powerful meaning to me. I used to attend the Big Smoke for purely educational reasons, meeting Ernesto Perez Carillo, Benji Menendez, Rolando Reyes Sr, Frank Illanaza, Eric & Bobby Newman, Carlito Fuente and others - who turned out to be mentors along my learning journey.

Today, I attend Cigar Aficionado Big Smoke to share the knowledge that has been passed down to me, and of course, introduce our brands to consumers. But the thing I like most about the Big Smoke these days is drinking good spirits with the posse of attendees, many of which I've become dear friends with throughout the years. We go mob deep to the event and have a great time. Miami proved to be the funniest of all for me.

Thanks to CA and the peeps who came to the show. Washington DC and Dirty Jersey were up in that place fuerte. Peace. JD.
Bo Brandt Aarhus C, Denmark, April 12, 2017 8:17pm ET
Thanks for an excellent event!
The caption on photo #5 is a bit off...
It shows Rachel and Luke Branyan, along with myself.
And by that way, aside from everyone from the U.S. and Canada, I came over from Denmark to take part in the event.
David Savona April 13, 2017 6:29am ET
Jon always great to see you and thanks for the comment.
David Savona April 13, 2017 6:30am ET
Bo, we will fix that caption. Thank you for coming all the way from Denmark.

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